SurfEasy is a solid, no-frills VPN that’s a good pick for privacy at a reasonable price. It’s not the fastest VPN we’ve seen, but offers impressive consistency and reliability across its server network, and hassle-free access to Netflix will be a big bonus for streaming fans. Custom apps are available for Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android but they aren’t compatible with routers or any devices outside of the main platforms.
SurfEasy offers the highest possible level of encryption (AES-256) but is unfortunately lacking in more advanced privacy features, such as a VPN kill switch. For all intents and purposes it’s a zero-logs provider, collecting only aggregate bandwidth usage for troubleshooting purposes, which goes a long way to making up for the fact it’s based in privacy-unfriendly Canada. Customer service is generally good, but email responses can be slow at times.
Pricing & Deals
SurfEasy offers a couple of different options when it comes to pricing, Total and Ultra. We’d recommend paying that little bit extra each month and opting for Ultra as not only does it include servers optimized for torrenting, it also allows you to connect to 28 countries rather than just the 16 offered on the Total plan.
Paying monthly is the most expensive option costing $11.99, but you can save yourself almost 50% by signing up to the annual plan, coming in at a reasonable $6.49 each month. The limited Total plan is $4.99 on a monthly basis or $3.99 on a 12-month subscription.
Get 46% off SurfEasy's 12-month plan
SurfEasy Pricing & Deals
SurfEasy offers both a free trial and a seven-day money-back guarantee. There’s no time limit on the trial so you can use it for as long as you want, however you are subject to a 500MB data cap, meaning you won’t be able to do much more than run a few speed tests and stream a couple of shows on Netflix. It’s a great way of testing out the software but we wouldn’t recommend it as a long-term solution.
Once you’ve signed up you have up to seven days to change your mind. The money-back guarantee is genuinely no questions asked with no hidden data caps or restrictions, simply email customer support and tell them you wish to terminate your subscription. Please note that if you purchased that app through the Apple App Store, you’ll need to go directly to them for a refund.
You’re pretty limited when it comes to how you can pay for your SurfEasy subscription, with your options being either credit card or PayPal. We would have liked to see some alternative methods here, perhaps Bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrency, as well as some international options.
Speed & Reliability
SurfEasy offers reliable speeds on local connections, and doesn’t fall down too much when connecting internationally, which is pretty impressive. It’s definitely not fast enough to trouble the top-tier VPNs, but local speeds are more than quick enough to handle a few HD streams at the same time. Upload speeds were impressive, making it a great choice for torrenters (on the Ultra plan only), but high latencies may put off gamers.
SurfEasy delivers solid, consistent downloads on local connections, approaching 50Mbps in the UK and the Netherlands and hovering around 37Mbps in Germany. We were impressed that speeds only dropped a little when connecting to the US, at a reasonable 35Mbps. Australia and Japan were also pleasingly speedy considering we test from London, with performance good enough for HD streaming on a couple of devices simultaneously.
We found latency to be poor across the server network and even on same-city connections we experienced a fairly laggy 9ms. This won’t affect most, but avid gamers may want to look into other providers, some of which boast super low latencies of 1ms or under.
It connects fairly quickly each time, at around 5-10 seconds, but just be sure you aren’t trying to access any privacy-sensitive data on the internet during this time as SurfEasy doesn’t offer a killswitch, meaning your true IP address could be leaked. Once up and running, we found performance to be really reliable, provided you have a stable internet connection of course.
Upload speeds were again very impressive when connecting locally, peaking at almost 90Mbps in Germany and averaging around 82Mbps across the rest of Europe. These are ideal speeds for torrenting, however this is only permitted on the Ultra plan, which includes servers optimized for P2P activity.
SurfEasy is most definitely quick enough for everyday users and those looking to stream on one or two devices simultaneously. It doesn’t come close to the peak speeds offered by other top-tier providers, but in most cases these aren’t even necessary, so unless you specifically need speeds of over 100Mbps it’s a good choice.
To find out more about our speed testing methodologies, please read How We Review VPNs.
SurfEasy’s server network is one of the smallest we’ve seen with just 28 countries to choose from. If Europe is your focus, it’s a great choice, but if your preferred locations are elsewhere, you may be better off with another VPN. We’d advise checking out their server list to see if you’re covered before you sign up- if you’re not other providers such as HideMyAss! offer up to 190 countries.
We weren’t surprised to discover that SurfEasy maintains a fairly low number of individual servers at just over 1,000 in total, meaning you’re likely to experience server congestion and therefore reduced performance at peak times. There’s also no choice to drill down to city-level servers, which could be particularly frustrating if you’re in the US and want to pinpoint a specific state.
As you might expect from a Canadian country, Europe and North America are the best served, accounting for 20 out of the 28 countries. Asia is particularly poorly represented with just Singapore and Japan flying the flag for the region, and South America and Africa have it even worse with just a single location each (Brazil and South Africa, respectively).
You can find the complete list of SurfEasy server locations by country and purpose on their website below.
Platforms & Devices
SurfEasy’s custom apps are limited to Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android, putting them well behind their competitors in terms of device compatibility- for example, ExpressVPN offers one-click solutions for almost all popular devices.
There are unfortunately no manual workarounds for those devices lacking native apps, including routers, so you’re well and truly restricted to the four major platforms. They introduced an app exclusively for Amazon devices, but, without any reasons given, this been discontinued.
This means that currently the only way to use the VPN is to install a separate app on each of your devices, which could be frustrating if you want to protect all of your family’s devices as well as your own. SurfEasy also only allows five simultaneous connections, so it’s unlikely that everybody in the house will be able to use the VPN at the same time.
SurfEasy offers proxy extensions for both Google Chrome and Opera browsers. These can be installed and added to your browser in a matter of seconds if you already have the main app open, and they work in much the same way, simply choose a server to connect to and you’re good to go. The only downside is that they’ll only encrypt your browser traffic and nothing else, so we’d usually advise having the desktop app running at the same time for the highest possible level of protection.
These extensions are the perfect solution for heavy browser users seeking a more lightweight experience, but they don’t really offer any additional features that aren’t already covered by the desktop client. SurfEasy did originally start out as a browser extension for Opera, so it’s hardly surprising that it still exists, however we don’t really see it as anything more than a useful added extra.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
Due to the fact that SurfEasy can’t be installed at router level, it would be difficult to recommend it to those who are mainly planning on using the VPN with their games consoles and streaming devices. The only way you could possibly get it to work would be to piggyback off the connection from another device running the software, such as a laptop or smartphone, however there’s no indication on SurfEasy’s website as to whether this would work or not.
SurfEasy does offer a dedicated app for Amazon devices, meaning you are able to use it on your Amazon Fire TV or Stick without any need for manual configuration. However, for any devices other than this, such as PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, AppleTV or Roku, we’d recommend opting for a provider that offers one-click streaming and gaming solutions.
Streaming & Torrenting
SurfEasy is a good choice if you’re looking for fast, hassle-free access to major streaming services including Netflix, a site that can be notoriously difficult to access while using a VPN. SurfEasy unfortunately doesn’t offer optimized streaming servers, but the silver lining of having no city-level servers means you don’t have to scroll through loads of different locations before you find one that works. Obviously the major downside of this is that if they stop working, you have no other options to try.
Thankfully we had absolutely no issues accessing Netflix through the generic US server, and we actually found the video quality to be much better than that offered by some top-tier providers. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with BBC iPlayer on the UK server, which we found to be blocked. If using this service is essential, there are other providers out there that offer easy access to it, such as SaferVPN.
SurfEasy is a great choice for torrenters, but only if you sign up to the Ultra Plan, as they have created specific servers optimized for P2P activity that are only available on this plan. Solid upload speeds and a very minimal logging policy are major pluses here, giving you peace of mind that your filesharing is private and secure.
Encryption & Security
SurfEasy is a solid choice for privacy but doesn’t quite match up to top-tier providers due to its lack of advanced features. After some digging we discovered that the desktop app does operate on OpenVPN, the most secure of the various VPN protocols, although this isn’t obvious at first glance. SurfEasy promises ‘bank grade security’ but it looks like AES-256 to us, which is a top cipher favored by the US federal government.
The one major downside of SurfEasy is the lack of VPN kill switch, which is incredibly unusual in a provider of this size. This means that if the VPN connection were to drop for any reason and you didn’t notice, your true IP address would be visible to potential snoopers and hackers. Thankfully all of your web traffic is routed through SurfEasy’s own secure DNS servers rather than those owned by third parties such as your ISP or Google, protecting it from prying eyes and keeping your online activity private.
Another added bonus is the built-in ad-tracker blocker, which uses a unique algorithm to block the tracking cookies advertisers use to follow you online. If you turn this on in the desktop app, you’re presented with the number of ad-trackers that have been blocked in the past 30 days, but we can’t be sure how accurate this is. Regardless, it’s a great feature to have and it seems to work very well.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- DNS Leak Blocking
- First-party DNS
- Supports TCP Port 443
- Ad Blocker
If you’re mainly going to be connecting out from China or another country with high levels of internet censorship, we wouldn’t recommend choosing SurfEasy as your primary VPN provider.
China has recently cracked down on VPN traffic, making it near impossible to bypass the Great Firewall unless you utilize additional obfuscation tools to hide the fact you’re using a VPN. Censors use DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) to detect and block suspicious connections, and as OpenVPN is so commonly used, it’s really easy to spot. Look for providers offering ‘stealth’ protocols for the best chances of being able to connect in these locations, as otherwise you may get out there and find yourself unable to access the internet without restrictions. To make your decision easier, you can check out our latest VPN recommendations for china.
This also applies to countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, all of which are subject to very strict online censorship laws. The size of SurfEasy’s server network means that even if you were able to get connected, you’d probably struggle to reach a decent level of performance, which isn’t ideal if you want to do anything more than just general browsing. There are far more reliable options out there.
For all intents and purposes, SurfEasy may as well be zero-logs. It does not collect or store your originating IP address, the server you connect to, or any apps, services or websites you visit while connected to the VPN. For troubleshooting and support purposes, it does collect aggregate bandwidth usage, but this is only stored on a temporary basis and more importantly not linked to individual users.
In order to manage its network, SurfEasy will sometimes conduct “real-time analysis of Internet and data traffic including destination websites or IP addresses, originating IP addresses”. At first glance this looks incredibly intrusive, however it isn’t something to worry about at all as crucially, this data isn’t logged, even temporarily. It’s a great example of a provider that wants to maximize performance without sacrificing the privacy of its users.
SurfEasy is based in privacy-unfriendly Canada, which isn’t ideal, however shouldn’t be too much of a problem due to its incredibly minimal logging policy meaning none of your online activity can be traced back to you as an individual.
Ease of Use
The SurfEasy VPN Windows app is certainly simple and straightforward to use, but somehow it also manages to feel clunky, cheap and far from slick. The app is system-tray only, which is handy for when you want to click and forget, but those who prefer to have the app permanently open won’t like it as much. The main screen keeps it simple with your chosen location, new IP address and whether or not you’ve enabled the ad-tracker blocking.
Settings are minimal – far too minimal for our liking. There’s no transparency around VPN protocol or the option to change it – thankfully after speaking with the support team we can confirm it’s OpenVPN. The only meaningful user-controlled settings beyond location are toggling on and off WiFi protection and ad-tracker blocking. We’re big fans of simplicity but far too much has been sacrificed here for the sake of a user-friendly app.
If you’re looking for a high level of configurability and loads of advanced privacy settings, you should definitely steer clear of SurfEasy. It seems to be aimed at VPN newbies looking for a click-and-forget solution that doesn’t require too much manual config on their part.
Installation and set-up is incredibly easy and only takes a couple of minutes from start to finish, making it simple even if this is your first time using a VPN. The general process is to download the relevant software from SurfEasy’s website and then follow the sequence of installation prompts to get the app started. Once this is complete, all you have to do is enter your login details and you can start using the VPN.
The prompts themselves are pretty straightforward to follow, but should you get stuck, there are loads of helpful guides on the support section of the site.
Customer support is respectable at SurfEasy. There’s a live chat feature, with speedy and friendly responses, but unfortunately this isn’t available 24/7 and agents occasionally lacked some technical knowledge. The website also provides a phone number for the help centre, which adds a more personal touch and is something we rarely see. Outside of office times (9-5 EST), you can email support, however this can be slow, sometimes taking over a day to respond. When we did receive responses they were clear and to-the-point.
The how-to guides and FAQs are fairly comprehensive and above-average quality. They lack a little polish and aren’t in the same league as the best we’ve seen. The tutorial videos are nicely produced and well-voiced although the “Home Improvement”-style tips videos are a little cheesy. The TED talk was a nice touch and shows the company commitment to the online privacy cause.
The Bottom Line
- Peak local download speeds of 48Mbps
- Quick, easy access to Netflix
- Useful browser extensions available
- Connect securely to 28 countries
- Ad-tracker blocker included
- Clunky desktop app
- Very few advanced privacy settings
- Based in privacy-unfriendly Canada
- Limited server network
- Torrenting limited to Ultra Plan
SurfEasy is a good choice for VPN newbies who are mainly going to be connecting locally and don’t want to fiddle with loads of manual settings. It’s pretty mid-range when it comes to the price, however if you opt for the annual plan it’s not bad value, especially considering the bundled ad-tracker blocker. Speeds across Europe are more than good enough for HD streaming, but gamers may want to look elsewhere due to high latencies. Access to Netflix will be an added bonus for streaming fans, although BBC iPlayer remains blocked.
The software has been streamlined almost to a fault, and would benefit from some more advanced features. It’s also only currently available for the four major platforms and Amazon devices, with no manual workarounds for routers. Customer support is decent quality but slow responses to email left us frustrated at times. If you’re going to be connecting out from China and other high-censorship countries, choose another provider, but casual users wanting to use European servers should seriously consider SurfEasy.